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Table of Contents

Hacking the GMAT: Sentence Correction

About this guide:

Who this guide is for:

How to hack sentence correction questions:

Intro: How to hack a sentence correction question

Step 1: Scan the answer choices for differences

Step 2: Read the original sentence for context and meaning

Step 3: Eliminate incorrect answers and choose the best remaining answer

Lesson 1: Subject-Verb Agreement

Rules

The subject must be able to “do” the verb Subjects and verbs must agree in number

Concepts

Indefinite pronouns Compound subjects Additive phrases Practice questions Answers and explanations

Lesson 2: Pronouns

Pronoun Rules

Pronouns must have antecedents Pronouns and their antecedents must be logical Pronouns can only refer to one antecedent

Pronouns and antecedents must agree in number

Pronoun concepts

Relative pronouns

Relative pronoun reference

Relative pronouns That and Which

Relative pronouns Who and Whom

Practice questions

Answers and explanations

Lesson 3: Modifiers

Modifiers Rules

Modifiers must be clearly and logically linked to what they modify

Modifiers Concepts

Adjectives vs adverbs Participial modifiers Illogical participial modifier Participial modifier time relation Participial modifier at the beginning of a sentence Participial modifier at the end of a sentence Practice questions Answers and explanations

Lesson 4: Tenses and Moods

Tenses Rules

Verb tense must be consistent

Tenses Concepts

Present simple tense Simple past tense Future simple

Present progressive Present perfect progressive Past progressive Future progressive Present perfect tense Past perfect tense Subjunctive

Answers and explanations

Lesson 5: Parallelism

Rules

List items must be structurally similar and logical

Concepts

Parallel structures

Parallel items

Parallelism of nouns and noun phrases Parallelism of adjectives Parallelism of verbs Parallelism of infinitives Parallelism of participles

Practice questions

Answers and explanations

Lesson 6: Comparisons

Rules

Comparisons must be parallel and logical

Concepts

Logic in comparisons Comparative form

Superlative form Equality form Comparing an entity with a group Like, As Twice vs. Double One or other vs. One or another Among vs. Between

Practice questions

Answers and explanations

Lesson 7: Idioms

Dispute/Debate Aim/Target Able/Ability, Capable/Capability, In order to/to Try/Attempt Damage

Contend Known Consists/Dispose/Approve Compare to vs. Compare with Words paired with as Led to From X to Y The reason is + because Superior/Inferior, Similar/Equal The same as Responsible + for

Practice questions

Answers and explanations

Lesson 8: Redundancy and Voice

Rules

The GMAT prefers active voice

Eliminate unneeded words

Common redundancies

After + when

A reason conjunction and a conclusion conjunction

Because of + the fact that

Whether + or not

Practice questions

Answers and explanations

Acknowledgements

Hacking the GMAT: Sentence Correction

Hacking was originally a negative term: Computer hackers illegally broke into computer systems; a hack, often a writer or artist, produced shoddy work; and to hack conveyed mismanaged action. But in our current world where computer hackers can also be activists and disruption is a standard business model, hacking is positive: a clever shortcut, a better way of doing something.

It is in the vein of this second definition that we wrote this guide and that we created the Prep4GMAT mobile study app. There’s a better way to study for standardized tests like the GMAT, and it involves accessible and adaptive tools such as apps and digital guides like this one. While technology cannot replace the hard, and at times, grueling work of studying, it can make studying more efficient and responsive to an individual’s needs. This is what we hope to achieve with our app and guides.

About this guide:

GMAT sentence correction (SC) questions bewilder and frustrate non-native and native English speakers alike. The myriad rules of grammar – not to mention conventions such as idioms and style – make even the most confident speakers and writers second-guess themselves.

At their core, however, SC questions, like all GMAT questions, test reasoning abilities, and you do not have to become grammarian or even the best English speaker to score highly. What is needed to master sentence correction questions are a firm grasp of grammar and style fundamentals and a familiarity with how sentence correction questions are designed to trick you.

This guide gives you the foundations for mastering sentence correction questions. In each chapter, our GMAT experts have examined a major grammar topic and broken it down into the fundamental rules and concepts you will encounter in SC questions. At the

end of each chapter, a set of practice questions allows you to test your understanding of the topics you just studied and compare your answers to the detailed explanations of the questions that follow.

Reading this guide is not enough to master SC questions. The knowledge the guide contains is most useful when you also know how to apply it on actual questions, and the best way to learn how to apply it is through practice: answering questions and carefully reviewing your answers.

For GMAT prep you can take anywhere, try the hundreds sentence correction practice questions on the Prep4GMAT app, available free for download on the iTunes App Store. The app makes studying both convenient and potent with comprehensive answer explanations for each practice question and analytics that track your strengths and weaknesses. You can download Prep4GMAT here.

Who this guide is for:

Whether you’re about to take your first GMAT or your third, if you struggle with, are confused by or need a refresher on the grammar and style rules that sentence correction questions test, this guide will help you. However, there are few things you should know in order to get the most out of the guide.

Since each chapter dives right into the important grammar topics, you should already know the parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) and basic sentence terminology (phrases, clauses, etc.) in order to fully understand the material. If you’re unfamiliar with these terms or need to brush up on their definitions, the Internet has many excellent resources you can consult. Check out Purdue University’s English website the OWL for an in-depth explanation of these terms or download the Prep4GMAT app and select Sentence Correction Lesson 1 for a quick overview.

If you’re new to sentence correction questions or have

questions about how the GMAT is structured, check out the GMAC website. Here you can find introductions to each question type and the organization of the exam. You can also see examples of sentence correction questions in chapter 1 of this guide on how to approach sentence correction questions and at the end of each chapter in the practice sets.

How to hack sentence correction questions:

As mentioned above, mastering sentence correction questions require both an understanding of grammar and style rules and how questions test these rules. You can think of the first as factual knowledge and the second as tactical knowledge. To illustrate how these two sets of knowledge create mastery, let’s compare the GMAT to chess.

To play chess, you first need to know the rules of the game: how each piece moves, the terminology of the game and the sequence of turns. This is the factual knowledge of the game. To play chess like a master, on top of the fundamentals, you must also possess tactical knowledge: strategies of attack and defense, and most importantly, superb pattern recognition.

Pattern recognition allows a chess player to compare the arrangement of the pieces on the board to the arrangements of pieces in previous games played or studied. By recognizing similarities with other game

situations, the player can quickly perceive possible opportunities and threats and place his or her pieces in the best position for victory. Many patterns repeat in chess, and a player attuned to common patterns has an edge.

Like chess, GMAT questions abound with repeated patterns, patterns that through practice you can recognize and take advantage of. By patterns, we mean the way questions are designed: how the sentences and answer choices are constructed to test your knowledge of grammar and style.

For example, sentence correction questions that test the subjunctive mood will often feature answer choices with the words should, would or could – words that cannot be combined with a verb in the subjunctive mood. These errors repeat on most questions that feature the subjunctive mood, so once you notice this pattern, you’ll immediately know which answer choices you can eliminate.

Someone who scores in the top percentile on the

GMAT tackles GMAT questions in much the same way a chess master approaches each turn. A high scorer can quickly compare a question to one he or she has practiced before and (with this reference in mind) recall what he or she needs to do to find the correct answer while watching out for possible traps.

You cannot gain this tactical knowledge without a firm grasp of the factual knowledge – for sentence correction questions, the rules of grammar tested on the GMAT. Use Hacking the GMAT: Sentence Correction to learn these rules or refresh your memory, and use the Prep4GMAT app to build your mastery of GMAT questions.

While practicing questions on the app, you can press the Prep4GMAT X-ray button, which highlights keywords in each question. These keywords clue you in to the grammar rules tested on the question and help you develop pattern recognition.

Our app is the only study app that trains you to master GMAT questions by visualizing the important patterns

in each question. Highlighted keywords help you see the structure of a question, which primes your memory to recognize patterns and helps you figure out how to solve the question. It’s test prep made smarter.

Intro: How to hack a sentence correction question

Recognizing the grammar rules tested in a sentence correction question helps you build mastery and allows you to work through questions efficiently. The best way to recognize rules is to notice the differences between answer options.

Let’s use an example to demonstrate this approach:

After winning the World Cup this year, the German team were touted as the world’s best soccer team; no coach or critic had anything but praise for the young sportsmen.

(A)

the German team were touted as the world’s

(B)

the German team was touted as the world’s

(C)

the world touted the German team like the

(D)

touting the German team as the world’s

(E)

they were touting the German team as the

world’s

Step 1: Scan the answer choices for differences

When presented with a sentence correction question, look first for what changes in the answers. What words, phrases or clauses change from one answer choice to the next? These differences are clear-cut signs of the grammar style rules being tested by the question. This method also saves you from wasting time comparing each answer choice to the original sentence.

Let’s look at the major differences among answer choices in the example. In choices A and B, the number of the verb changes from the plural were to the singular was, and in choices C, D and E, the tense of the verb changes from touted to touting to were touting. Also, in option E, the plural pronoun they is introduced.

The other major difference among answer choices appears in choice C. Unlike the other options, choice C uses like instead of as to compare the German team.

After studying comparisons in chapter 8, you’ll know that like means “similar to.” In the next step, you’ll check whether this meaning makes sense in the context of the non-underlined parts of the sentence.

Just from briefly looking at the answer choices, you already know that the grammar rules being tested in this question include verb tense and number, comparisons (specifically like vs. as), and pronouns.

(A) the German team were touted as the world’s (B) the German team was touted
(A)
the German team
were touted as the world’s
(B)
the German team
was touted as the world’s
(C)
the world
touted the German team
like
the
(D)
touting the German team as the world’s
(E)
they
were touting the German team as the
world’s

When you need a hint on an SC question, selecting Prep4GMAT’s X-ray button highlights the keywords you should focus on in order to help uncover the grammar rules behind the question.

Step 2: Read the original sentence for context and meaning

By reading the original sentence, you see that there’s a time indication after that begins the sentence and that the other verb in the sentence had is in the past tense. Since you noticed that the plural pronoun they was introduced in option E, you should check to make sure it has a plural antecedent somewhere in the non- underlined part of the sentence, which it doesn’t, so you can automatically mark E as incorrect.

Given the context of the sentence, the use of like instead of as is illogical in option C. It doesn’t make sense to say the world touted the team similar to the world’s best. Instead, the World Cup winners are equivalent to the world’s best, so as should be used instead of like. You can eliminate option C.

be used instead of like . You can eliminate option C. After winning the World Cup

After winning the World Cup this year, the

German team were touted as the world’s best soccer team; no coach or critic had anything but praise for the young sportsmen.

(A)

the German team

were touted as the world’s was touted as the world’s

were touted as the world’s

was touted as the world’s

(B)

the German team

the world

 

touted the German team

like

the

(C)

       

(D)

touting the German team as the world’s

touting the German team as the world’s

 
     

(E)

they

 

were touting the German team as the

world’s

Step 3: Eliminate incorrect answers and choose the best remaining answer

We’ve already eliminated two options, so that leaves us with A, B or D as possible correct answers. The differences among these options lie in the verbs they use. Touting in option D is a participle, so the clause that touting begins (touting the German team as the world’s soccer team) has no true verb, which makes this option grammatically incorrect.

This leaves us with option A and B whose verbs differ in number. If you know that subject-verb agreement dictates that a verb and subject must agree in number (chapter 2), then you see that option A is incorrect. Team is the subject, and it is a collective singular noun, so it requires a singular verb, was.

This means the correct answer is B.

a singular verb, was . This means the correct answer is B. After winning the World

After winning the World Cup this year, the

German team were touted as the world’s best soccer team; no coach or critic had anything but praise for the young sportsmen.

the German team

were touted as the world’s

(A)

 

(B) the German team

as the world’s (A)   (B) the German team was touted as the world’s the world

was touted as the world’s

the world

touted the German team

like

the

(C)

     
(D) touting the German team as the world’s

(D)

(D) touting the German team as the world’s
(D) touting the German team as the world’s
(D) touting the German team as the world’s

touting the German team as the world’s

(E)

they

were touting the German team as the

world’s

Lesson 1: Subject-Verb Agreement

Every sentence must have a subject and a verb. However, not just any subject can be combined with any verb. In order for a sentence to make sense and to be grammatically sound, subjects and verbs must be logical and agree in number.

Once you understand these two basic rules, you’ll be able to understand all the subject-verb agreement errors you will see on the GMAT.

Rules

The subject must be able to “do” the verb

In addition to being grammatically correct, sentences must have a logical meaning. This includes having a subject-verb pair that makes sense together. For example:

The BIRD FLEW out the open window.

Here the subject and verb, bird flew, makes logical sense. However, some subjects cannot “do” the action expressed by the verb, as discussed in the next section.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

This first rule is simple but a verbose or complex sentence can easily hide an error in logic. Take the following example:

The advancement of new battery technology, which will increase battery life 300 percent, will power mobile phones of the future.

At first glance, this sentence appears fine, but something sounds a little funny. When a sentence

sounds off but obvious grammatical errors are absent, check to see if the subject-verb combo makes sense.

If you ask the question, “can the subject do the verb,” you will see that the above sentence actually does not make sense.

The subject-verb pair is advancement and will power. Can advancement power mobile phones? This is sloppy word choice on the author’s part, and logically it doesn’t make sense. It’s the new batteries that will power the mobile phones of the future, not the advancement of new batteries.

The trick to discovering this and many other errors in sentence correction questions is to strip wordy sentences down into their essential structure. Think of this technique as a way to “cut the crap.” You take out non-essential information like subordinate clauses and prepositional phrases so that you can clearly see the bones of the sentence.

“Cut the crap” in the incorrect example above by removing the subordinate clause that begins with

which and the prepositional phrase that begins with of, and you get:

The ADVANCEMENT… WILL POWER mobile phones…

With the sentence stripped to its fundamental structure, the error becomes obvious.

Subjects and verbs must agree in number

Subjects can be singular or plural. If only one person, place or thing (Allan, Atlantis, apple) is performing the action of the verb, then the subject is singular and it must have a singular verb. If more than one person, place or thing (Allan and Vance, Atlantis and Valhalla, apples) is performing the action of the verb, then the subject must have a plural verb.

The WAVE TOSSES our rowboat side to side.

(singular subject wave + singular verb tosses)

The WAVES TOSS our rowboat side to side.

(plural subject waves + plural verb toss)

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

How does the GMAT make such a simple rule challenging? SC questions will often try to obscure the number of the subject by placing the subject far away from the verb. Obscuring the number of the subject through subject-verb separation looks like this:

Exemplified by Hiram Bingham III’s discovery of Manchu Picchu in 1911, the exploration of ancient archaeological sites and other so-called wonders of the ancient world were a pastime of wealthy academics of the early 20th century.

The above sentence makes a subject-verb agreement error though it is difficult to spot due to all the additional information and phrases stuffed into the sentence. The subject is exploration, which is singular, and the corresponding verb is were, which is incorrectly plural.

As in the previous rule, if you “cut the crap” in this sentence, the subject-verb agreement error is exposed. This time, it is a lengthy prepositional phrase that can be removed. Taking out the prepositional phrase and the introductory phrase clearly shows the subject-verb agreement error:

The EXPLORATION… WERE a pastime…

Concepts

Collective nouns

Collective nouns refer to groups of people, places or things, such as “family”, “band” or “team.” In American English, almost all collective nouns require

a singular verb; however, in contexts where

individual members or items of the group are stressed, collective nouns are plural. These situations are rarely tested on the GMAT though.

A few examples of collective nouns include: army,

crowd, team, herd, swarm.

The foreign ARMY WAS seen crossing the border.

With yesterday’s win, our hockey TEAM IS in first place.

What to look out for:

Anytime you see a collective noun used as a subject in

a sentence, check its corresponding verb. Collective nouns will almost always be considered singular on the GMAT.

Incorrect: A COLONY of ants HAVE overtaken our kitchen.

Indefinite pronouns

Pronouns stand in for nouns. For example, she is a pronoun for Sarah or any female name. Indefinite pronouns, such as anyone, have no specific referent. Anyone does not stand in for a specific noun in the way that she could stand in for Sarah.

When used as the subject of a sentence, most indefinite pronouns are considered singular and take a singular verb.

The following indefinite pronouns are always singular:

everybody

anything

no one

everything

someone

nobody

anyone

somebody

nothing

anybody

something

SOMEONE always TELLS a joke during our

Monday morning meetings.

EVERYTHING WAS in its proper place.

Some indefinite pronouns, however, can be plural or singular depending on their use in a sentence. These pronouns are known by the acronym SANAM:

some, any, none, all, most/more

To determine whether a SANAM pronoun should take a singular or plural verb, you need to check the noun object that follows. Usually this noun phrase is in a prepositional phrase that begins with of.

SOME of the RECRUITS WERE punished for disobedience.

(recruits = plural = were)

SOME of the FOREST WAS destroyed in the wildfire.

(forest = singular = was)

What to look out for:

When an indefinite pronoun is used as a subject, first determine whether it is a SANAM pronoun. If it is not

a

SANAM pronoun, then the verb must be singular. If

it

is a SANAM pronoun, make sure the verb agrees

with the noun object of the prepositional phrase that follows the pronoun.

Incorrect: EVERYTHING the OFFICIALS said WERE wrong.

Correct: EVERYTHING the OFFICIALS said WAS wrong.

Incorrect: NONE of the SCHOLARS KNOWS how to explain the new theory.

Correct: NONE of the SCHOLARS KNOW how to explain the new theory.

Compound subjects

In English, it is possible to have two subjects in one clause. When two subjects are connected by the conjunction and, they always take a plural verb.

John AND David ARE working on a secret project for the government.

Authority AND domination WERE his goals.

What to look out for:

Make sure that all compound subjects are paired with a plural verb. The GMAT may use verbose sentences to hide this error.

John AND David, two computer science friends of mine, IS working on a secret project for the government.

Here again, the “cut the crap” technique would help expose this error.

Incorrect: John AND David… IS working…

Correct: John AND David ARE working.

Additive phrases

Additive phrases are subjects with at least two entities that use the connectors as well as, along with, in addition to or together with.

Unlike compound subjects linked by and, treat the first part of the additive phrase as the subject of the sentence.

Firefighters together with the mayor PRESENT the trophy to the local hero.

John along with specialists IS working on a secret project in the tech industry.

What to look out for:

Because additive phrases link two entities, it’s tempting to treat them like two subjects and use a plural verb. However, only use a plural verb if the first part of the phrase is plural.

Incorrect: John along with specialists ARE working on a secret project for the government.

Practice questions

1. A new marketing gimmick, which is evident

at most carnivals, are waves of street artists and roadside performers, which include jugglers and attract and fascinate pedestrians at the crossroads.

A. A new marketing gimmick, which is evident at most carnivals, are waves of street artists and roadside performers, which include jugglers and

B. Evident at most carnivals are waves of street artists and roadside performers with jugglers, a new marketing gimmick that

C. A new marketing gimmick evident at most carnivals is a wave of street artists and roadside performers, many of them jugglers, who

D. Marketing gimmicky new waves of street artists, roadside performers, and jugglers are visible at most carnival, which

E. A wave of street artists and roadside performers, many of whom are jugglers, are evident at the crossroads, where they are a new marketing gimmick and

2. According to the National Insurance

Committee, the country’s financial regulatory body, they estimate that, in comparison to last year, when only 40 percent of the nation’s 1 billion population was insured, this year 75 percent will be.

A. they estimate that, in comparison to last year, when only 40 percent of the nation’s 1 billion population was insured, this year seventy five percent will be.

B. compared to only 40 percent of the nation’s 1 billion population being insured last year, they estimate 75 percent would be this year

C. only 40 percent of the nation’s 1 billion population were insured last year; it estimates that this year 75 percent will be

D. it estimates 75 percent of the nation’s 1 billion population would be insured this year; last year that was only 40 percent

E. only 40 percent of the nation’s 1 billion population last year were insured, whereas they estimate it this year to be 75 percent

3. Although a hint of MSG or Monosodium Glutamate are fairly common in Chinese fast food; they can cause heart palpitations,

affecting the respiratory system.

A. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate are fairly common in Chinese fast food; they can cause heart palpitations, affecting the respiratory system

B. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is fairly common in Chinese fast food, they can cause heart palpitations and affect the respiratory system

C. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate are fairly common in Chinese fast food; it can cause heart palpitations, affecting the respiratory system

D. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is fairly common in Chinese fast food, it can cause heart palpitations and affect the respiratory system

E. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is fairly common in Chinese fast food; they can cause heart palpitations,

affecting the respiratory system

4. A survey of private schools shows that there are now one teacher for every eight students, twice as many than there were five years ago.

A. there are now one teacher for every eight students, twice as many than there were

B. there is now one teacher for every eight students, twice as many than there were

C. there is now one teacher for every eight students, twice as many as there were

D. every eight students now have one teacher, twice as many than there were

E. every eight students now has one teacher, twice as many as

5. According to the American Census Report of 2011, the number of girls enrolled in government schools has grown every year since 1990.

A. the number of girls enrolled in government schools has grown

B. the number of girls who are in government schools have grown

C. there has been growth in the number of girls in government schools

D. a growing number of girls have been in government schools

E. girls have been growing in number in government schools

To practice hundreds of more sentence correction questions that test subject-verb agreement, download the Prep4GMAT app for free here.

Answers and explanations

Question 1

A - Incorrect:

The singular subject a gimmick does not agree with the plural auxiliary verb are and with the plurality of the second subject waves.

B - Incorrect:

The relative pronoun that relates to the preceding noun gimmick, and thus the plural verb attract does not agree in number with the singular noun gimmick.

C - Correct:

The singular subjects a gimmick and a wave agree with the singular verb is. The relative pronoun who relates logically to jugglers.

D - Incorrect:

The problem in this option is the phrase Marketing

would mean the performers

gimmicky new waves

are marketing waves of street artists, which makes no sense.

E - Incorrect:

The problem is that the singular A wave, which is conceived of as one entity, should not take the plural verb are. Also the use of the phrase at the crossroads twice, while grammatically OK, is stylistically clunky. Check out chapter 8 for more information on the GMAT’s preferred style of writing.

Question 2

A, B, E - Incorrect:

Subject verb agreement error. The plural pronoun they cannot refer to the singular subject committee.

C - Correct:

The pronoun it refers correctly to the singular subject committee. The semicolon is properly used - both clauses on either side of the semicolon are independent and related.

D - Incorrect:

The pronoun that doesn’t have a clear antecedent and can refer to the population, the estimation or the insured population.

Question 3

A, C - Incorrect:

Subject and verb agreement error. The singular noun hint does not agree in number with the plural auxiliary verb are.

A, B, E - Incorrect:

The plural pronoun they doesn`t agree with the singular subject a hint.

A - Incorrect:

Although, like the word “despite,” always introduces a dependent clause. In this case, a comma needs to follow this clause before the associated main clause.

D - Correct:

This answer choice fixes the pronoun errors and the subject verb agreement error.

Question 4

A, B, D - Incorrect:

The form of comparison twice as many is incorrectly used with the conjunction than instead of as.

A - Incorrect:

The plural auxiliary verb are does not agree in number with the singular subject teacher.

C - Correct:

This option corrects the subject-verb agreement errors, and the form of comparison is correct: twice as many as.

E - Incorrect:

The singular auxiliary verb has does not agree with the plural subject students.

Question 5

A - Correct:

The use of the number of is singular and matches the verb has grown. The time indication since 1990 implies the tense of the sentence, which is present perfect.

B, D - Incorrect:

Subject verb agreement error. The singular subject the number does not agree in number with the plural auxiliary verb have.

C - Incorrect:

There has been growth is stylistically less preferable.

E - Incorrect:

The use of in number is grammatically illogical by implying the growing happened inside a number.

Lesson 2: Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a noun or

noun phrase. For example:

Because Allen borrowed HER book, Susan couldn’t find IT when SHE looked on HER bookshelf.

Allen accidently left Susan’s book on the subway, but HE didn’t want to tell HER until HE could purchase another copy.

In the first sentence, the pronoun it replaces book, and

the pronouns she and her replace Susan. In the second sentence the pronoun he stands in for Allen, and her stands in for Susan.

The noun that a pronoun replaces is called the antecedent of the pronoun. Book, Allen and Susan are all antecedents in the examples.

Pronoun Rules

Pronouns must have antecedents

As previously defined, an antecedent is the noun or noun phrase that gets replaced by a pronoun. Antecedents are not optional: You cannot have a pronoun in a sentence that does not refer to an antecedent. This is the fundamental rule of pronouns to remember. All the subsequent rules and concepts follow this rule.

Susan’s book was left on the subway, but HE didn’t want to tell her until HE could purchase another copy.

In this sentence, the pronoun he has no antecedent:

There is no appropriate noun within the sentence that he could stand in for.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

SC questions will throw in words that look like the antecedent to a pronoun but that are actually imposters. Since a pronoun replaces a noun or noun phrase, the antecedent must actually function as a noun

in the sentence. To trick you, the GMAT will use a noun in a non-noun role – for example as an adjective – to pose as the antecedent to a pronoun. Check out the following example:

The New York executive loved to look up at ITS skyscrapers at night.

It is easy to assume that the antecedent of the possessive pronoun its is New York. However, even though New York is a noun, in this sentence it is being used as an adjective that describes the executive, so it cannot be an antecedent, and therefore this sentence is incorrect.

Pronouns and their antecedents must be logical

Just like subject-verb pairs, pronoun antecedent pairs must make sense. This means that if a pronoun were swapped with its antecedent (the noun or noun phrase it replaced), the sentence would still make sense. Take the following example:

Though the name Denali means “the high one” in the Koyukuk language, IT is only the third highest mountain in the world.

If you replace it with its antecedent the name Denali you get:

Though the name Denali means “the high one” in the Koyukuk language, the name Denali is only the third highest mountain in the world.

Replacing the pronoun with the antecedent clearly shows the mistake. This sentence could be remedied by foregoing the pronoun and using Mt. Denali instead.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

GMAT questions will compose easily understandable sentences like the incorrect example above that seem to make sense but on closer analysis have tangled logic. Make sure you can find the antecedent of a pronoun and that the antecedent makes sense with the pronoun.

Pronouns can only refer to one antecedent

Pronouns must have only one antecedent. When a pronoun has more than one possible antecedent, confusion and ambiguity reign.

While both the military junta and a dissident citizen group claimed responsibility for the killings, THEY did not announce the motive behind the violence.

Who did not announce the motive? The pronoun they could refer to the military junta or the dissident citizen group.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

Constructing sentences with multiple possible antecedents is a popular tactic that the GMAT uses. Always be on the watch for pronouns that conceivably refer to more than one noun or noun phrase.

Pronouns and antecedents must agree in number

Like subjects and verbs, there are plural pronouns and singular pronouns, and pronouns must agree in number with their antecedents.

Orangutans are known to be dangerous pets as THEY can rebel against their owners and even kill.

The plural pronoun they agrees with its plural antecedent orangutans.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

Again, like subject-verb agreement, sentence correction questions will pair singular antecedents with plural pronouns and vice versa while trying to hide this error through complex sentence structures.

With the sudden boom in the housing market, the small island nation of Baltika is easing back restrictions on work visas so that THEIR housing demands can continue to be met.

The antecedent, small island nation, is singular, so the corresponding pronoun should be its and not the plural their. In the sentence, the plural noun restrictions acts as a distractor: It makes it sound as if their could be correct even though it is illogical that restrictions have housing demands.

Pronoun concepts

Relative pronouns

A relative pronoun is a pronoun that marks a relative clause within a sentence. Relative pronouns have three functions:

1. Connect the relative clause and the main clause

2. Relate to the preceding noun

3. Function as the subject or the object of the relative clause

On the GMAT, the relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, whoever, whosoever, which and in some cases, that.

The commencement speaker is a famous author WHO was the spiritual leader of his country’s revolution.

The relative pronoun who links the main clause (the commencement speaker is a famous author) to the relative clause of which it serves as the subject of

(who was the spiritual leader of his country’s revolution).

In addition, there are various fused relative pronouns that combine the antecedent with the relative pronoun into one word: what, whatever, whatsoever, whoever, whosoever, whomever, whomsoever and whichever.

What to look out for:

Nouns dictate which relative pronouns can be used with them. For example, “who” can only be used with people.

Incorrect: I was hired by a company WHO specialized in bovine bio-tech research.

In the example above, that should have been used instead of who.

Correct: I was hired by a company THAT specialized in bovine bio-tech research.

Note:

Omitting a relative pronoun is not allowed in formal writing. Clauses must always be connected.

Correct: Where is the review of the movie THAT we are going to see?

Incorrect: Where is the review of the movie we are going to see?

In rare cases, the relative pronoun may be omitted when it is used with the verb “be.”

Relative pronoun reference

A relative pronoun relates to a preceding noun. Always check whether the relative pronoun logically relates to the preceding noun.

We have thought of numerous ideas for costumes THAT the children will wear for the party.

Here the relative pronoun relates to costumes, which makes sense: The costumes are costumes that the children will wear.

What to look out for:

Pay attention to the order of words around relative pronouns to make sure that the relative pronoun and the clause it begins relate to the correct noun. In the following example, the relative pronoun modifies the incorrect noun.

We have thought of numerous costume ideas THAT the children will wear for the party.

That and the subordinate clause it begins relate to ideas rather than costumes, so the sentence structure

illogically states that children will wear ideas for the party.

Relative pronouns That and Which

Relative pronouns that and which can refer to any noun, not including human beings. Which is used in clauses that express either extra or non-essential information while that can only be used in relative clauses that contain essential information. For example, compare the following two sentences.

This is the picture THAT was stolen from the museum.

This picture, WHICH was stolen from the museum, is worth a million dollars.

In the first sentence, that introduces information that is essential to the meaning of the sentence. Without the relative clause, that was stolen from the museum, the sentence would just be this is the picture, whose meaning differs significantly from the original.

In the second sentence, the relative clause that starts with which introduces extra information into the sentence. The fact that the picture was stolen is not

essential to the meaning of the sentence – that the picture is worth a million dollars. When which is used to introduce nonessential information, it is preceded by a comma.

What to look out for:

In a sentence correction question, if you see answer choices that feature a change between that and which, check to see whether the information they introduce is essential or inessential. Remember, that should only be used if the clause introduces essential information. Also, which should always be preceded by a comma when introducing non-essential information.

Incorrect: Nikki’s favorite movie is the film “Momento” that was directed by Christopher Nolan.

Correct: Nikki’s favorite movie is the film “Momento,” which was directed by Christopher Nolan.

Using that would only be correct if there were

multiple movies titled “Momento” as the information in the relative clause would be needed to distinguish which movie named “Momento” was Nikki’s favorite.

Relative pronouns Who and Whom

Unlike that and which, the relative pronouns who and whom can only relate to a human noun. The difference between the two is that who is the subject of the relative pronoun and whom is the object of the relative pronoun.

If you have difficulty choosing between who and whom, then read the relative clause separately as if it were an independent sentence, replacing who with he or they and replacing whom with him or them.

The man who is walking along the street is the postman. (He is walking along the street)

The man whom we met in the morning is the postman. (We met him in the morning)

What to look out for:

When you see who and whom in the answer choices, use the above technique to check whether the relative pronoun is being used as a subject or an object.

Incorrect: The man whom is walking along the street is the postman.

(Him is walking along the street)

Concept 3: The man who we met in the morning is the postman.

(We met he in the morning)

Practice questions

1. Elliot Carter’s String Quartets, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning composition, consists of atonal, rhythmically complex music, each note a miniature composition inside its own structure.

A. each note a miniature composition inside its

B. all the notes a miniature composition inside their

C. all the notes a miniature composition inside its

D. every note a miniature composition inside their

E. each note a miniature composition inside their

2. Scientists at the state medical research facility

have discovered a dormant virus, one that they believe is a type previously unknown to medical science.

A. that they believe is

B. that they believe it to be

C. they believe that it is of

D. they believe that is

E. that they believe to be of

3. A letter by John Keats, written in the same year as “Ode on a Grecian Urn” were published, reveals that Keats was often unsettled by his lover Fanny Brawne’s behavior towards him.

A. A letter by John Keats, written in the same year as “Ode on a Grecian Urn” were published,

B. A letter by John Keats, written in the same

year of publicat24n as “Ode on a Grecian Urn,”

C. A letter by John Keats, written in the same year that “Ode on a Grecian Urn” was published,

D. John Keats wrote a letter in the same year as he published “Ode on a Grecian Urn” that

E. John Keats wrote a letter in the same year of publication as “Ode on a Grecian Urn” that

4. Driven to desperation by their burgeoning loans, the farmers tried innovative agricultural techniques, planted multiple crops, and even the sale of their poultry for generating additional money.

A. the sale of their poultry for generating additional money

B. sold their poultry to generate additional money

C. the sale of their poultry in money generation

D. generating money from the sale of their poultry

E. their poultry sale to generate additional money

5. Several columnists have harshly criticized a prominent construction company for, first of all, failing to complete projects on time, and secondarily, for their failure to adhere to government guidelines regarding construction of residential buildings.

A. secondarily, for their failure to

B. secondly, for their failure to

D.

second, that they failed to

E. second, for failing to

Answers and explanations

Question 1

A - Correct:

This option correctly uses each to modify note and the pronoun its to replace note.

B - Incorrect:

The use of all is incorrect as the sentence emphasizes the characteristics of the constituents of the music, i.e., the notes.

C - Incorrect:

The use of all is wrong as the sentence emphasizes the characteristics of the constituents of the music, i.e., the notes. Further, the use of the pronoun its does not agree with all in number.

D - Incorrect:

The use of every does not agree with the pronoun

their in number.

E - Incorrect:

The use of each does not agree with the pronoun their

in number.

Question 2

A, D - Incorrect:

The auxiliary verb is creates a comparison between

two entities that must be from the same type. In this case, one (virus) that is a type implies that the virus

is simply a type. Or perhaps type may mean type of

virus where of virus is understood.

B, C - Incorrect:

The pronoun it does not have a clear antecedent. It can refer to virus or research facility. While it could be argued that it refers to virus, it is also clearly redundant in these two cases.

E - Correct:

This answer fixes the comparison error by stating that the virus believed to be of a type and not is a type. The pronoun it has been removed. E is a better answer choice than A, among other reasons, because

E is a little more precise, and because E doesn’t insist

that we understand that the word type actually means type of virus.

Question 3

A - Incorrect:

The auxiliary plural verb were is incorrect. Ode on a Grecian Urn is a singular noun.

B - Incorrect:

The phrase written in the same year of publication as is clunky and uneconomical.

C - Correct:

Correct comparison between the year the letter was written and the year Ode was published. This answer

is the clearest and most economical.

D, E - Incorrect:

The use of the relative pronoun that at the end of the underlined sentence opens a relative clause that incorrectly modifies the noun Ode on a Grecian Urn, implying that the Ode reveals, rather than a letter by John Keats reveals. The major problem with both D and E is that John Keats is the subject, and his name is awkwardly repeated where the pronoun “he” would be a much better choice.

Question 4

A - Incorrect:

This option is wrong as the use of the noun sale is not parallel to the other verbs of the sentence: tried, planted.

B - Correct:

This option correctly uses the verb sold in parallel form with the other verbs tried, planted.

This option is wrong as the word sale (noun) is not parallel to the other verbs of the sentence: tried, planted.

D - Incorrect:

… generating is incorrect as it is not parallel with the past tense of the sentence.

E - Incorrect:

The noun sale in this option is not parallel to the use

of verbs in the previous phrases.

Question 5

A - Incorrect:

This is a question in which we strive to achieve

parallelism. The phrase secondarily

first of all, an adverbial phrase. However, option E, which contains the adverb second (an adverb here), is more parallel.

B - Incorrect:

is parallel to

The pronoun their is plural, but the noun company is singular.

C, D - Incorrect:

The pronoun they is plural where the noun company is singular. Further, first of all and second describe a list of items, which must be in a parallel form. However, the second item that they that starts with the relative pronoun that is not parallel to for failing.

E - Correct:

The adjectives first and second are parallel, and for failing to replace and for failing to investigate are parallel as well.

Lesson 3: Modifiers

Modifiers do just what their name implies: They modify a noun or an action in a sentence by giving additional details about it. The simplest modifier is an adjective or adverb, but modifiers can also be whole phrases or clauses.

With sweat falling from her forehead, Anita danced to the Spanish guitar like she had never danced before.

This sentence begins with a modifier in the form of a clause, and it gives additional details about Anita, the subject of the main clause of the sentence.

Plutonium, a transuranic radioactive chemical element, can be found in nature.

A series of words, transuranic radioactive chemical element, all modify the noun plutonium.

Alan leaped deftly over the large puddle.

This sentence features an adverb, deftly, which

modifies the verb leaped.

The crux of understanding modifiers – and understanding how the GMAT will try to use them against you – is identifying what the modifier is attempting to describe.

Modifiers Rules

Modifiers must be clearly and logically linked to what they modify

Modifier errors occur when a modifier describes the wrong noun or verb in a sentence. The technical term that GMAC, the makers of the GMAT, use for this is an error in logical predication.

Running down the street, a brick fell on the thief’s head.

Who is running down the street? Likely it is the thief who is running down the street, but since a brick is the noun that follows the modifying phrase that opens the sentence, this is the noun that receives the information of the modifier.

Whenever a modifier describes a noun, the modifier – no matter if it’s a single word or a whole phrase – must be placed next to the noun.

According to the structure of the sentence, it is the brick that is running down the street. This error can be fixed in one of two ways:

1.

Moving the modified noun so that it is next to

the modifying word or phrase.

Running down the street, the thief was struck by a brick.

2. Switching the order of action.

A brick fell on the thief’s head as he was running down the street.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

Sentence correction questions create modifier confusion by separating modifiers from the nouns and verbs they modify. When you come across modifiers, always check what they modify. Make sure that the noun or verb modified matches the author’s intention.

The correct use of a modifier is dictated by the author’s intention not the structure of the sentence.

For example, the previous example about the brick and the thief is correct if the brick were running (according to the structure of the sentence). However,

this meaning does not match the author’s intention.

Two of the most common modifier errors are misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers. Misplaced modifiers occur when the modifier is not placed next to the noun it modifies (as in the case of the first example). Dangling modifiers occur when the modifier describes a noun that is absent from the sentence like in the following example.

Overcome with dread, there was silence in the theater.

In the sentence above, the opening modifier has nothing to modify in the sentence: Who was overcome with dread? It doesn’t make sense that silence or the theater was overcome with dread, so the opening modifier is said to “dangle” since it has nothing to modify.

Note that dangling modifiers can occur anywhere in a sentence: at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. The above example can be fixed by providing a noun that the modifier could describe.

Overcome with dread, the audience was silent in the theater.

Modifiers Concepts

Adjectives vs adverbs

Adjectives are words that describe nouns or pronouns. They may come before the word they describe (that is a cute puppy), or they may follow the word they describe (that puppy is cute).

Adverbs are words that modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs. They cannot modify nouns or pronouns. A word is an adverb if it answers the question how, when or where.

She is rather daft.

(daft = adjective modifying the pronoun she)

She thinks slowly.

(slowly = adverb modifying the verb thinks)

You did a good job.

(good = adjective modifying the noun job)

We performed badly.

(badly = adverb modifying the verb performed)

What to look out for:

Common errors include using an adjective when an adverb is needed.

She thinks slow.

Slow is an adjective, which can only describe nouns or pronouns and not verbs like thinks. However, the adverb slowly could be used correctly in its place.

Also pay careful attention to what an adverb or adjective is modifying and whether it correctly conveys the intended meaning. In particular, watch when adverbs or adjectives are paired together as subtle but significant changes in meaning can occur. For example, notice how the meaning changes when an adjective is changed to an adverb in the following sentences:

She was the coy Danish librarian he met on the train

She was the coyly Danish librarian he met on the train.

Note,

Contrary to the general rule that only adverbs can modify a verb, use the adjectives good or bad with sense verbs, such as look, feel, smell, sounds or taste.

Correct: The food smells good.

Incorrect: The food smells well.

Participial modifiers

A “participle” is a verb that acts as an adjective, and a participial modifier is a participle or participial phrase that modifies a clause. There are two types of participles: present participles (writing, driving) and past participles (written, driven).

The participial modifier appears at either the beginning or the end of a clause and is separated from the rest of the clause by a comma.

Using the results of the previous fiscal year, the managers developed a new business plan.

The managers developed a new business plan, using the results of the previous fiscal year.

What to look out for:

The participial modifier always contains essential information and should not come between the subject and the verb.

Incorrect: The managers, using the results of the previous fiscal year, developed a new

business plan.

Illogical participial modifier

A participial modifier must relate logically to the subject of the clause it modifies as in the following sentence.

Scientists warned that rising sea levels were already having a deleterious effect on marine life, REFERENCING the loss of sea turtle hatching grounds in the South Pacific.

What to look out for:

Participial modifiers are common culprits in dangling modifiers on the GMAT. Check to make sure that it makes sense for the subject of the clause to be modified by the participle or participial phrase.

USING the results of the previous fiscal year, a new business plan was developed by the managers.

This sentence does not make sense because the participial modifier describes the new business plan:

The new business plan did not use the results of the

previous year, rather the managers did.

Participial modifier time relation

The participial modifier occupies the same period of time as the verb of the clause. In other words, the action contained in the participial modifier and the actions in the clause occur simultaneously.

Celebrating their victory over the Celtic invaders, the monks raided the monastery’s ale cellar.

The time period of the action in the participial modifier that begins the sentence is the same time period of the action in the main clause that follows it. The celebrating and raiding are simultaneous events.

What to look out for:

Participial modifier time relation errors occur when a participial modifier is meant to occur in a different time period.

The following sentence is incorrect because the action in the participial modifier happened before the action in the main clause.

Incorrect: Finishing his exam, the boy walked home.

Correct: After finishing his exam, the boy walked home.

Participial modifier at the beginning of a sentence

A participial modifier should modify the subject of the clause that follows the comma.

Floating in the pool, I marveled at the clouds.

Floating in the pool is the participial phrase that modifies the subject, I.

Biting his victim, Louis felt a momentary thrill.

Biting his victim is the participial phrase that modifies the subject, Louis.

What to look out for:

A participial modifier must make sense describing the subject of the clause that follows. Also, a participial modifier can never describe the impersonal pronoun it.

Incorrect: Flying through inclement weather, it took an extra hour to arrive.

Correct: Flying through inclement weather, the

plane took an extra hour to arrive.

Participial modifier at the end of a sentence

A participial modifier at the end of a sentence always comes after a comma and modifies the subject of the previous clause.

The colonialists dress in gaudy colors, thinking they are superior to the natives.

What to look out for:

The same errors that can occur with participial modifiers that begin sentences can occur with participial modifiers that end sentences. Make sure that a participial modifier describes the subject of the preceding clause and that this description makes sense.

Incorrect: A large branch struck him, walking down the sidewalk.

Correct: Walking down the sidewalk, he was struck by a large branch.

Practice questions

1. For people living in the small town of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, mukluk boots with bottom insulation and parka hoods with a ruff

are essential items of daily wear, a method to protect against the harsh cold of the approaching Arctic winter.

A. a method to protect

B. as a method protecting

C. protecting

D. as a protection of

E. to protect

2. An interesting fact about the human ear is that in the cochlea, hair cells are placed close to each other, moving in unison and assuming distinct cell shapes independent of one another.

A. moving in unison and assuming

B. they move in unison while assuming

C. move in unison, and assume

D. moving in unison yet assuming

E. even though they move in unison and assume

3. A quiet, young boy who was often prone to bouts of sickness, Tutankhamen’s rise to

power in 1332 B.C. surprised many, though oracles had foreseen King Tut’s ascension years ago.

A. Tutankhamen’s rise to power in 1332 B.C. surprised many

B. Tutankhamen’s rise in 1332 B.C. to power surprised many

C. Tutankhamen’s power in 1332 B.C. surprised many

E. the power attained by Tutankhamen in 1332 B.C. surprised many

4. Although closed for renovation, architecture

students with a college pass can gain entry to the historic monument.

A. Although closed for renovation

B. Although it is closed for renovation

C. Closed for renovation

D. Closed on account of renovation

E. Having closed for renovation

5. During the early years of the American Civil War, when the Union Army provided one assistant surgeon to every regiment of thousand men, women nurses, familiar with various surgical procedures, were a help in the treating of several injured soldiers.

A. women nurses, familiar with various surgical procedures, were a help in

the treating of

B. women nurses were familiar with various surgical procedures and this enabled them to help in the treatment of

C. women nurses, familiar with various surgical procedures, helped to treat

D. having intimate knowledge of various surgical procedures, women nurses helped the treatment of

E. familiar with various surgical procedures, women nurses helped to treat

Answers and explanations

Question 1

A - Incorrect:

This option contains a misplaced modifier: the noun after the comma is called an appositive modifier -- it provides extra information about the noun before the comma. In this case it seems that a method modifies daily wear.

B - Incorrect:

This option incorrectly uses the preposition as, which implies that daily wear is a method.

C - Correct:

The active participle protecting correctly modifies mukluk boots with bottom insulation and parka hoods with a ruff to imply that these items are protecting people living in the small town of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.

D - Incorrect:

This option seems to imply that a method modifies daily wear because the noun after the comma is an appositive modifier, which means that it provides extra information about the noun before the comma.

E - Incorrect:

This option contains a misplaced modifier: the implication of the infinitive to protect is not clear with respect to the subject.

Question 2

A - Incorrect:

The aggregation word and is used illogically to provide contrasting information. While grammatically correct, the use of and fails to express the contrasting behavior of hair cells that move together but take on different shapes.

B - Incorrect:

The two independent clauses are connected with a comma, but a semicolon is required.

C - Incorrect:

This answer is not grammatically correct. The use of move in unison, and assume would need the conjunction and to make it part of a verb phrase: are placed…, and move in unison, and assume. And, even then, it would be awkward and unidiomatic.

D - Correct:

The aggregation word yet is used correctly to show contrast. This answer choice is the one that would best explain why such phenomena are interesting to scientists and to us.

E - Incorrect:

This answer does not make sense. What’s surprising

is not that the cells are placed close together.

A,B,C,E - Incorrect:

The opening modifier illogically modifies the noun phrase rise to power. Rise to power cannot be a quiet, young boy.

D - Correct:

The opening modifier correctly modifies the human Tutankhamen.

E - Incorrect:

The opening modifier illogically modifies the noun phrase the power.

Question 4

A - Incorrect:

The conjunction although requires a clause after it. In this case, no subject and verb follow, and thus no clause follows although.

B - Correct:

This answer fixes the structure error by adding the clause with a subject it and a verb is after the conjunction although. Adding the pronoun it fixes the meaning of the sentence by having it refer to historic monument.

C, D, E - Incorrect:

Dangling modifier error. The participle modifier at the beginning of the sentence closed / having closed illogically refers to architecture students.

Question 5

A - Incorrect:

The women nurses were a help is informal, conversational phrasing.

B - Incorrect:

This option contains an ambiguous antecedent as this refers to familiar or surgical procedures.

C - Correct:

The idiom helped to treat is in the correct form (help

+ infinitive). The modifiers are in the correct place:

familiar modifies women nurses.

D - Incorrect:

The phrase having intimate knowledge of various surgical procedures wrongly modifies “one assistant surgeon” rather than “women nurses” as required.

E - Incorrect:

The phrase familiar with various surgical procedures wrongly modifies one assistant surgeon rather than women nurses as required.

Lesson 4: Tenses and Moods

There is more to consider than just subject-verb agreement when it comes to verbs in sentence correction questions. Verb tense must also be considered. The tense of a verb indicates when the action occurred.

She RUNS to class.

She RAN to class.

She WILL RUN to class.

In each of the examples, the action to run happens at different times. The first example is in the simple present tense, which is used to express “external” states, general rules or facts. The action isn’t currently happening: She is not currently running to class. Instead this is simply a general statement.

The second example is in simple past tense: The running already occurred. The third example is in simple future: The action has yet to occur.

In addition to the simple tenses shown above, we will examine progressive and perfect tenses as well as the indicative and subjunctive mood.

Tenses Rules

Verb tense must be consistent

The guiding rule of verb tense is to keep tenses consistent within a sentence. Obviously, if a sentence only has one verb, this task is simple. On the GMAT, however, sentences will often express multiple actions.

Correct: The diplomat WALKED out of the embassy and SURRENDERED to the angry lemon vendors.

Incorrect: The diplomat WALKS out of the embassy and SURRENDERED to the angry lemon vendors.

Sentences can dictate a switch in verb tense, but only if the switch is in accordance with the meaning of the sentence.

During the first leg of a race I always FEEL fine, but in yesterday’s race, I FELT awful from the start.

Since this sentence compares actions (in this case

feeling) that occurred over two different time periods,

a tense switch is needed. The first clause is in the

simple present tense because the action is a general statement, but the action in the second clause happened in the past, so the simple past tense is used.

Time indicators such as today, yesterday or tomorrow are the key to figuring out the appropriate tense of a verb.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

Sentence correction questions will often use the wrong tense in a sentence that contains multiple actions. When you see multiple forms of a verb in the answer choices of a question, you need to distinguish whether verb tense, subject-verb agreement or both of these concepts are being tested.

If the number of the verb changes between choices,

then subject-verb agreement is being tested. If instead the tense changes, then verb tense is being tested. Finally, if both the tense and the number of the verb change, then subject-verb agreement and tense are

being tested.

Subject-verb agreement (a change in the number of a verb):

has vs. have

is vs. are

Verb tense

has vs. had been

is vs. was

Both subject-verb agreement and verb tense

has vs. have been

is vs. were

The differences between verbs used in the answer choices will indicate which grammar rule or rules are being tested.

Tenses Concepts

Present simple tense

As pointed out earlier, the present simple tense is used for general information. It is not used to describe actions that occur at specific times.

We WALK to the store.

We ARE WALKING to the store.

Notice the difference in meaning between these two statements. The second statement indicates the time when the action occurred: walking is happening now. However, the first statement, written in the simple present tense, does not indicate a specific time. It is simply a general statement.

Besides general statements, the simple present can also be used with repeatedly occurring actions. These actions are often indicated by adverbs of frequency, such as always, never, frequently, every month.

I always FISH with friends.

Alice BUYS chocolate for her mom every Mother’s Day.

The simple present can also be used with actions scheduled in the future.

Independence Day FALLS on a Wednesday this year.

The plane ARRIVES at 9 tonight.

What to look out for:

When you see the simple present tense used in an SC question, watch out for time indicators that ascribe a specific time to the action. Remember that the simple present is only used for general statements.

Incorrect: Today, improvements in diagnostic testing MAKE it possible to detect early stages of cancer.

The verb make is in the simple present but the time indicator today ascribes a specific time to the action. Therefore, this sentence is incorrect. To correct this mistake, the time indicator today should be taken out to make the sentence a general statement.

Correct: Improvements in diagnostic testing MAKE it possible to detect early stages of cancer.

Correct: Today, improvements in diagnostic testing HAVE MADE it possible to detect early stages of cancer.

Simple past tense

All past tenses describe actions that started and finished in the past. The past simple tense can describe facts or actions that occurred in the past, such as:

The Romans BUILT a system of roads throughout England.

My volume of Persian poetry FELL off the shelf.

The past simple tense can also describe actions that occurred at specific times as indicated by past indicators such as past dates, periods or eras, for example, yesterday, last week, years ago.

Jim GRADUATED from university last year.

During WWII, the Germans SHOT Edgar Derby for stealing a teapot.

Future simple

The future simple tense takes the form:

am/is/are + going to

or

will + base verb

Use the simple future tense to express actions that will happen in the future. Look for time indicators such as next day, week, month, year; tomorrow; in the coming year; etc.

I AM GOING to watch the game tonight.

The county’s water supply WILL PLUMMET in the next five years.

Present progressive

The present progressive tense takes the form am/is/are + verb + ing, and it is used to describe actions that are currently happening, such as step-by- step actions and actions occurring at the time of speaking/writing.

The economy IS RECOVERING.

The committee IS now VOTING on the new transportation act.

Present perfect progressive

The present perfect progressive tense takes the form have been + verb + ing. Like the present perfect simple tense, the present perfect progressive indicates an action that started in the past and continues in the present. However, the present perfect progressive is used to describe continuous actions.

Elliot HAS BEEN PREPARING dinner since this afternoon.

Ellen HAS BEEN WRITING for two hours.

In both these examples, the action is continuous: Elliot has continuously been preparing dinner since the afternoon, and Ellen has written continuously for two hours.

What to look out for:

The present perfect progressive cannot be used for non-continuous actions or actions of short duration.

Incorrect: Elvis HAS BEEN LEAVING the building.

Correct: Elvis has LEFT the building.

Past progressive

The past progressive tense takes the form:

was/were + verb + ing

The past progressive is used to indicate continuous action that occurred and finished in the past. More specifically, the past progressive is used to express the following time conditions.

Past action in progress, such as past actions that occurred gradually or step-by-step.

The economy WAS RECOVERING.

The Beatles WERE quickly BECOMING the world’s most famous band by 1963.

1. Past actions that occurred within a limited time frame. Thoreau WAS WRITING “Walden” during the summer of 1848.

by while or when. While I WAS ROWING, Martin was watching for the island.

3. A continuous action in the past that was interrupted by another action. Again while or when should link the actions. While he WAS WRITING his first novel, he had an idea for a screen play.

Future progressive

The future progressive tense takes the form:

will + be + verb + ing

or:

is/am/are + going to + be + verb + ing

The future progressive tense indicates continuing action: something that will be happening or going on at some point in the future.

I cannot attend the meeting tomorrow because I AM BE GOING TO BE PLAYING golf all day.

Scientists predict temperatures WILL BE steadily RISING over the next century.

Present perfect tense

The present perfect tense is formed by combining the simple tense of the verb have (has/have) and a past participle.

I HAVE TAKEN the GMAT twice before.

The present perfect simple tense is used to express the following time conditions:

1. Actions that started in the past and continue in the present. Time indicators include the words since, for, lately, recently, so far, never/always (for duration, not as an adverb of frequency), ever, always, before, yet, already, once, twice, three times, four times, five times. For six days, we HAVE SAILED the Atlantic.

The present perfect tense have sailed indicates that we’ve been sailing for four days and are still sailing in the present.

I HAVE always SPOKEN French.

Note here always is used to express a continuous action and not a repetitive action such as in I always speak French to your parents, which requires the simple present.

2. Actions that have ended in the present or close to the present. The time indications are right now, just, already, recent, recently, lately. Elvis HAS just LEFT the building.

3. Actions that have ended, but the present period of time continues. Time indicators include once, twice, three times, this year, this month. The attaché HAS BEEN to Ukraine twice this year.

What to look out for:

Watch for cases when the simple present tense sneaks

into sentences with specific time indications. In these cases, the simple perfect tense is usually required.

Incorrect: This is the first time our family JOINS the annual reunion.

Incorrect: This is the first time our family JOINED the annual reunion.

Correct: This is the first time our family HAS JOINED the annual reunion.

The first example is in the simple present tense, but there is the specific time indicator first time. The second sentence incorrectly uses the simple past tense joined.

Past perfect tense

The past perfect simple tense takes the following form:

had + past participle

The past perfect tense describes an action in the past that occurred before another action in the past. The earlier past action takes the past perfect tense while the more recent past action takes the simple past tense.

The sun HAD GONE down before we WENT to the movies.

The past perfect should only be used when the prior action has some connection to the action that comes after it, such as in a sequence of events.

The train HAD LEFT by the time we ARRIVED at the station.

Jane HAD PLANNED her trip carefully before she BOOKED the flight.

What to look out for:

The past perfect cannot be the only verb tense in a sentence; it is only used with the simple past tense.

Incorrect: We HAD LIVED in San Diego.

Correct: We LIVED in San Diego.

Correct: We HAD LIVED in San Diego before we MOVED to New Mexico.

Make sure the past perfect action and the simple past action are in the correct order in a sentence. The past perfect action must precede the simple past action.

Incorrect: We VISITED Morocco before we HAD VISITED France.

Correct: We HAD VISITED Morocco before we VISITED France.

The first sentence illogically uses the past perfect tense with the action that happened later.

Try not to confuse the past perfect with the present perfect tense. Remember, the past perfect always uses had.

Incorrect: We HAVE SIGNED our lease prior to seeing the new apartment.

Correct: We HAD SIGNED the lease prior to seeing the new apartment.

Subjunctive

As discussed in the introduction, verbs have a mood in addition to a number and a tense. The mood of a verb indicates the author or speaker’s belief about the action.

Most verbs are written in the indicative mood, which conveys certainty or knowledge. For example:

This bakery makes the best bagels in Boston.

At least 13 different species of finches live on the Galapagos Islands.

These sentences express something that is true or that the author believes to be true.

The subjunctive mood on the other hand expresses a hypothetical situation or the wishes of the author.

If I WERE a rich man, I’d hire a private tutor.

It is critical that he BE involved in this discussion.

These examples represent the two main instances

when the subjunctive mood is used:

1. To express hypothetical wishes or unreal conditions:

If I WERE tall, I would play on the Miami Heat.

2. To express demands, requests or proposals:

In light of the recent scandal, we propose that the provost RESIGN.

The GMAT rarely tests the first case, the hypothetical subjunctive. Instead, expect to see questions that test the second type of subjunctive, the command subjunctive.

Certain verbs of command require the command subjunctive. Command verbs include advice, ask, demand, direct, insist, instruct, order, recommend, request, require, suggest, command.

The coach insisted that Jim BE on time next practice.

We ask that the board CONSIDER our proposal.

With these verbs, the subjunctive always takes the following construction:

verb of demand + that + subject + infinitive (without the to)

There are a few important things to remember with command verbs and the subjunctive.

That must be included. If that is omitted, the construction is incorrect in formal writing.

Incorrect: The coach insisted Jim be on time next practice.

Correct: The coach insisted THAT Jim be on time next practice.

The command verb can be in any tense.

Correct: We ASKED that the board consider our proposal.

Correct: We ASK that the board consider our proposal.

The subjunctive verb cannot change in tense or number. It must remain in the base form (the infinitive form but without the to).

Incorrect: The defense requires that you ARE in court tomorrow.

Correct: The defense requires that you BE in court tomorrow.

Verbs such as should, will or would cannot be added to the subjunctive.

Incorrect: The mayor ordered that all citizens SHOULD REMAIN inside during the storm.

Correct: The mayor ordered that all citizens REMAIN inside during the storm.

The last and most frustrating key to the subjunctive is that not all demand verbs require a subjunctive verb.

Some command verbs require an infinitive verb.

Correct: I forbid you TO LEAVE this classroom.

Incorrect: I forbid you LEAVE this classroom.

Forbid is a command verb; however, it requires a verb in the infinitive form.

Some command verbs can take an infinitive or subjunctive verb.

Correct: The tour group asked that the guide SPEAK louder.

Correct: The tour group asked the guide TO SPEAK louder.

Asked is a command verb that can take either a subjunctive or an infinitive verb.

Unfortunately, there are no rules to determine which verbs require which forms. The best method is to memorize which forms go with which verbs.

Command verbs that require a subjunctive verb:

demand

mandate

request

dictate

propose

stipulate

insist

recommend

suggest

Command verbs that require an infinitive verb:

advise

persuade

allow

want

forbid

Command verbs that can take subjunctive or an infinitive verb:

ask

order

require

beg

prefer

intend

urge

What to look out for:

Though the subjunctive appears complex, sentence correction questions that test the subjunctive are predictable and can be approached methodically.

A command verb is the first clue that a question is testing the subjunctive. Whenever you see a command verb, you know that the following verb in the sentence must either be in the subjunctive form or the infinitive form.

If the following verb is a part of the question’s underlined text, you can eliminate any option that does not feature a subjunctive verb or an infinitive verb. Next, eliminate options that feature these common errors:

Eliminate any option that uses the subjunctive without that. Remember, that cannot be omitted from subjunctive constructions. However, that is omitted for verbs that use the infinitive form with the subjunctive.

Eliminate any option that uses the subjunctive with additional verbs such as should, will or could. Subjunctive constructions with these words are always incorrect.

Eliminate any subjunctive construction in which the verb that follows the command verb is in a tense other than the base tense (infinitive without to).

Looking for these common errors will simplify subjunctive questions and make the correct answer easy to find.

Practice questions

1. Although temporarily disconnected, Roger was

soon able to reconnect to the Internet using the

emergency code provided by the telecom operator.

(A) Although temporarily disconnected, Roger was

soon able to reconnect

(B) Although having been temporarily disconnected,

Roger had connected

(C) Although it had been temporarily disconnected, Roger was probably to be able to connect

(D) Temporarily disconnected though it had been,

Roger had been able to connect

(E) Disconnected temporarily, Roger has been able

to connect

2. Passions have run high as the meeting between

Poland and Russia in Warsaw in the football Euro Cup on Tuesday has been billed by the media as the Battle of the Vistula part two, a reference to a famous Polish victory over a stronger Bolshevik army in

1920.

(A)

have run high

(B)

ran high

(C)

had run highly

(D)

run high

(E)

were running highly

3. In the 1930s, John W. Campbell wrote short stories about an Antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient body of a crash-landed alien and eventually combined them in a novella forming the basis of the blockbuster movie “The Thing.”

(A)

(B)

forming the basis of the blockbuster movie

that were forming the basis of the blockbuster

movie

(C)

(D)

to form the basis of the blockbuster movie

which had formed the basis of the blockbuster

movie

(E) that formed the basis of the blockbuster movie

4. India has become the fastest-growing cellular market in the world. According to government

surveys, only 10 percent of Indians surveyed in 1996 had access to a telephone connection; of those surveyed in 2012, over 50 percent had access to a mobile phone connection.

(A) only 10 percent of Indians surveyed in 1996 had

access to a telephone connection; of those surveyed in 2012, over 50 percent had access to a mobile phone connection

(B) only 10 percent of Indians surveyed in 1996

have access to a telephone connection; if they are surveyed in 2012, over 50 percent have access to a mobile phone connection

(C) only 10 percent of them had access to a

telephone connection; but over 50 percent of them by 2012 had access to a mobile phone connection

(D) only 10 percent of Indians until 1996, and by

over 50 percent by 2012

(E) Indians in 1996 have telephone connection only

10 percent of the time, but over 50 percent of them had access by 2012

5. Stem cell therapy for diabetes has been garnering a lot of attention as a potential cure based on the assumption that stem cells are able to be programmed to behave like pancreatic cells.

(A) are able to be programmed to behave like

pancreatic cells

(B) were able to be programmed to behave as

pancreatic cells

(C)

can be programmed to behave like pancreatic

cells

(D)

could be programmed to behave like pancreatic

cells

(E)

are capable of being programmed to behave like

pancreatic cells do

Answers and explanations

Question 1

A - Correct:

This is the clearest, most concise answer.

B - Incorrect:

having

been is incorrect and confuses the

sequence of events.

C - Incorrect:

Usually, when there is a modifying clause before

the main clause, the main clause begins with the

word being modified. Also,

able to connect

probably to be

is unidiomatic.

D - Incorrect:

Temporarily disconnected though it had been is very wordy and awkwardly constructed.

E - Incorrect:

Poor use of the perfect tense. Disconnected temporarily signifies one event, while has been able to connect suggests a string of disparate events.

Question 2

A - Incorrect:

This option contains the wrong use of the present perfect tense. This sentence is in present tense, so have run is wrong.

B - Incorrect:

The first part of the sentence is in active voice and the verb should be in present tense run and not ran.

C - Incorrect:

The past perfect tense does not align with the tense of the sentence.

D - Correct:

This option contains the correct use of the adverb high to modify the verb run, and the present progressive is correct.

E - Incorrect:

The continuous action were running highly is illogical, and the tense does not agree with the main verb billed. High is an adjective with two forms of adverbs: high -- same meaning as the adjective; highly -- very much.

Question 3

A - Incorrect:

This option contains a misplaced modifier as the participle forming illogically modifies research camps rather than the events associated with it. It was the events that formed the basis of the novella not the research camp.

B - Incorrect:

This option contains the wrong form of the main

verb forming, which should be in past tense form according to the auxiliary were. The use of that is allowed in indirect narration only hence the sentence should be in past tense. Further, the use of the participle (verb + ing) is valid only when there is only one subject of the sentence.

C - Incorrect:

The use of the first form of the verb form is wrong as the sentence is in past tense. The use of the infinitive implies that John Campbell purposely wrote the short stories and it was not a coincidence.

D - Incorrect:

The use of past perfect tense is wrong in this case as the writing of short stories finished earlier, and according to the past perfect rules, the first sentence must be in past perfect.

E - Correct:

This option correctly uses the conjunction that

and correctly modifies stories. The verb formed

is in correct tense, past simple.

Question 4

A - Correct:

The use of past simple tense for both uses of the verb had in had access is clear and concise. This

is the best answer choice.

B - Incorrect:

In the first clause, the usage of the present simple

tense have access is less desirable here because

the time context is the past. (It’s worth noting, however, that authors may sometimes use the present when talking about things that happened

in the past in order to make the story more vivid.)

A more serious problem is the second clause that

begins, if they are surveyed in 2012; this is not the correct meaning, nor is it a correct use of if.

The pronoun them has no clear antecedent.

D - Incorrect:

Sentence fragment.

E - Incorrect:

This answer changes the meaning of the original sentence. The adverb of degree only before 10 percent changes the meaning of the original sentence.

Question 5

A, E - Incorrect:

Awkward and wordy use of passive voice. This is a simple concept and the prose should reflect that.

B - Incorrect:

Incorrect: The use of the preposition as (which means “in the position of”) illogically implies that stem cells behave in the position of

pancreatic cells (literally the same entity).

C - Correct:

This simple sentence provides us with all the information we need.

D - Incorrect:

It’s a practical fact here that these stem cells can be programmed to act like pancreatic cells, so could is incorrect.

E - Incorrect:

The use of being is usually wrong on the GMAT.

Lesson 5: Parallelism

Though parallelism sounds complicated, it is one of the easiest sentence correction skills to master. In essence, it is about keeping terms in a sentence similar (parallel) to one another. Look at the following example.

The new student is smart, thoughtful and has talent.

The sentence describes the new student by listing three of her qualities. However, the terms in the list are not parallel: smart and thoughtful are adjectives, but has is a verb. In order to achieve parallelism, each item in the list needs to be an equivalent part of speech.

In the example above, the verb phrase should be changed to an adjective.

The new student is smart, thoughtful and talented.

Primarily, parallelism deals with lists, such as the list

of qualities in the example above. Lists can be composed of words, phrases or clauses, and each list item must be similar to the others.

Rules

List items must be structurally similar and logical

Whenever terms are put into a list or another parallel structure, they must be structurally similar and logical. Lists are the most common type of parallel structures, but there are a number of others that will be looked at more in depth shortly. For now, look again at the example.

The new student is smart, thoughtful AND talented.

There are three list items in the sentence – the attributes that describe the new student. These items are all similar because they are all adjectives. For items to be similar, they must all be the same part of speech, or in some cases, approximations of the same part of speech. Here are some more examples:

Before the race, the crew checked tire pressure, adjusted mirrors AND changed the oil.

The above sentence features a parallel structure of verbs: checked, adjusted, changed.

The teacher advised THAT the students begin their final papers two weeks before the due date AND THAT they have their parents review the first draft.

The example contains two parallel clauses linked by and.

Susan planned incessantly for her trip, booking excursions in advance, researching attractions to visit AND taking French lessons in her spare time.

The –ing participial phrases booking excursions, researching attractions and taking French lessons are parallel with one another. Do not be fouled by the main verb planned as it is not part of the parallel structure. The parallel participial phrases describe how Susan planned, so they must be parallel with each other rather than with planned.

How the GMAT will try to trick you:

Parallelism is one of the GMAT’s favorite concepts to test, and many sentence correction questions will contain lists and other parallel structures. Parallelism errors are created when dissimilar items are put into a parallel structure.

The board of directors believed that the new business plan was neither profitable nor would it increase brand loyalty.

To spot parallelism errors, such as the error in the above example, follow this two-step process:

1. Check the sentence for any lists or other

parallel structures.

2. After identifying the parallel structure, check the part of speech of each item in the structure to make sure they are all similar and make sense together.

Neither… nor creates a parallel structure in this sentence. The words that this structure compares are

the list items: profitable, an adjective, and would increase, a verb phrase. To solve this parallelism error, the items need to be made equivalent parts of speech.

The board of directors believed that the new business plan was NEITHER profitable NOR beneficial for brand loyalty.

Here the parallel structure neither… nor compares an adjective with an adjective: profitable with beneficial.

Concepts Parallel structures

Certain idioms have a built-in parallel structure. Some typical examples are illustrated below.

and

, , and

Kangaroos and alligators

Mice, ducks and penguins

Both and

Both puppies and kittens

or

T-rex or Stegosaurus

, , or

T-rex, Stegosaurus, or Triceratops

Either or

Either a meteor or a volcano

Neither nor

Neither floods nor hurricanes

as well as

A meteor as well as a volcano

Not only (,) but also

Not only dinosaurs but also mammals

Swallow their prey rather than

rather than

chew it

Not but

Not rodents but marsupials

Not but rather

Not rodents but rather marsupials

yet

Carefully yet quickly

but

Running fast but breathing easy

One , another

One runs, another flies

The one , the otherThe one runs, the other flies

Some , others

Some run, others fly

From to

From dinosaurs to mammals

Become familiar with these structures. Whenever you see one in a sentence correction question, automatically check the items to make sure they are logically comparable and similar.

Parallel items

A parallel structure can contain almost any part of speech as well as phrases or clauses.

Nouns

Verbs

Adjectives

Adverbs

I have blueberries, strawberries and raspberries in my bag.

The student studied all morning, slept all night and went to work the day after.

The employee was smart, friendly and professional.

My teacher taught the material quickly yet thoroughly for the upcoming exam.

The mechanization of farming has Participles doubled the yield and cut the costs in half.

Infinitives Mary likes to hike, to swim and to ride bulls.

Clauses

We agreed that the film was mawkish and that it wasn’t worth our money.

What to look out for:

Even if the comparable items in a list are parallel,

make sure that the items are logically related.

Incorrect: She likes singing and dances.

Singing is a gerund, which is the -ing form of a verb that functions like a noun. Dances could be a noun, as in many schools hold dances for the students, or it could be a verb, as in she dances around her room. While gerunds and nouns can be parallel, in the example it does not make sense to pair these two items together.

Correct: She likes singing and dancing.

Parallelism of nouns and noun phrases

Nouns can be used in lists together with other nouns, noun phrases or pronouns.

Noun and noun

Noun and noun phrase

Noun phrase and pronoun

Noun phrase and noun phrase

Grace and Susan

Grace and her little sister

My little sister and I

My older brother and my younger sister

What to look out for:

Nouns can also be used in a parallel structure with gerunds. However, a gerund can only be used with a noun if there is no noun suitable to replace the gerund. If a noun exists that has an equivalent meaning to the gerund, then that noun must be used.

Both yoga and spinning are offered at the new gym.

There is no noun equivalent to spinning, so the noun-gerund pair is parallel. Compare this to the following.

Incorrect: Most professionals struggle to maintain a balance between working and play.

The gerund working could be replaced by the noun work.

Correct: Most professionals struggle to maintain a balance between work and play.

Parallelism of adjectives

Unlike nouns, which can be parallel to more than just other nouns, an adjective can only be parallel to other adjectives.

Incorrect: The author is humorous, creative and a celebrity.

Correct: The author is humorous, creative and famous.

Adjectives in a list can be modified using adverbs but only as long as the adverbs logically agree and maintain the parallelism.

Though she had been plagued with disease all her life, she was tall and very beautiful.

The adverb very modifies the adjective beautiful, and even though the other adjectives in the list do not have adverbs, the list is still parallel.

Parallelism of verbs

Verbs are only parallel to other verbs. In parallel structures, verbs can be used in different tenses and voices as long as the variation is logical.

The book was WRITTEN in the 18th century and PREDATES what was previously thought to be the original.

Written is in the past tense because the action occurred in the 18 th century, but predates is in the present tense because it is a general fact that this book is older than another copy that was believed to be the original.

What to look out for:

Though a parallel structure can be composed of verbs in different tenses, the tenses must be logical together given the context of the sentence.

Incorrect: The book was WRITTEN in the 18th century, PREDATING what was previously thought to be the original.

The present progressive tense of the second verb predating is illogical in this sentence.

Parallelism of infinitives

Infinitives are only parallel to other infinitives. If there are more than two infinitives in a list, the to can be dropped. If the second infinitive in the list omits the to, then the following list items must also omit it. If the second does not omit the to, all other items must have the to.

Correct examples:

During the tour, tourists will be able TO VISIT picturesque bays and lagoons, TO EXPLORE stunning landscapes, and TO TAKE a trip on a Dghajsa boat.

During the tour, tourists will be able TO VISIT picturesque bays and lagoons, EXPLORE stunning landscapes, and TAKE a trip on a Dghajsa boat.

What to look out for:

Whenever you see a parallel structure that contains infinitives, check the proper inclusion or omission of

to.

Incorrect examples:

During the tour, the tourists will be able TO VISIT picturesque bays and lagoons, TO EXPLORE stunning landscapes, and TAKE a trip on a Dghajsa boat.

During the tour, the tourists will be able TO VISIT picturesque bays and lagoons, EXPLORE stunning landscapes, and TO TAKE a trip on a Dghajsa boat.

Parallelism of participles

Certain phrases may contain multiple participles that modify the subject. In such cases, all participles that modify the subject should be parallel. In rare instances, past participles and present participles may be used together.

Correct: Archeologists have recently discovered a temple with massive foundations CARVED from a single rock some 1000 years ago and EXTENDING for more than 100 feet in all directions.

In the example above, carved and extending begin two participle phrases that both describe the temple’s foundations. Carved is a past participle while extending is a present participle.

What to look out for:

Remember, participles can only be parallel to other participles. Watch for parallel structures that pair participles with verbs.

Incorrect: Archeologists have recently discovered a temple with massive foundations CARVED from a single rock some 1000 years ago and IS EXTENDING for more than 100 feet in all directions.

The above sentence incorrectly pairs carved, a past participle, and is extending, a verb, in a parallel structure.

Practice questions

1. Nerve cells are often enclosed in a sheath of

myelin, making nerve conduction faster and electric signals traveling more quickly.

(A)

electric signals traveling

(B)

electrical signal travels

(C)

electrical signals are caused to travel

(D)

causing electric signals to travel

(E)

causing travelling of electric signals

2. Smartphones have not only allowed users to remain

continuously connected to the Internet, but they have also been blamed for distracting drivers, causing hundreds of accidents, and damaging the country’s road safety records.

(A) causing hundreds of accidents, and damaging the

country’s road safety records

(B) which caused hundreds of accidents and

damaged

(C)

In effect having caused hundreds of accident, which will damage the country’s roads safety records

(D) which in turns causes the hundreds of accidents

that led to the country’s road safety records being damaged

(E) to cause hundreds of accidents, damaging the

country’s road safety records.

3. Although it was anticipated that the urban electorate would shun the present rural centered government in the upcoming elections, pre-election polls predict that both urban and the rural voters approve of government actions.

(A)

urban and the rural voters